ULM logo
ULM English professor awarded prestigious ATLAS grant to complete book project

Published May 13, 2024


MONROE, LA Dr. Patrick Morgan, Assistant Professor of English at the University of Louisiana Monroe, has received an ATLAS grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents.  These Awards to Louisiana Artists and Scholars (ATLAS) are only given to a few scholars each year, and Morgan’s project, titled, “Geological Reformations in 19th-Century American Letters,” was awarded full funding at $39,111.  The rigorous external review process determined that, out of all the proposals submitted by scholars throughout the state, Morgan’s book project was ranked first. 

It is a tremendous honor to be recognized for my research, and to receive the support I need to complete the book I'm writing,” said Morgan.  “I'm thankful for all the encouragement my colleagues have given me along the way, and I am so thankful for this opportunity to finish a manuscript I've been writing for several years.” 

The external reviewers praised his book project, writing, “This is a delightfully original proposal for a project that connects 19th-century American literature to geological sciences.  This interdisciplinary project is clearly and engagingly written, and relevant to several fields: history and literature of science, American Studies, and Environmental and Anthropocene Studies.  The project is well framed and richly enhanced by archival research, including 19th-century American geology textbooks, literature, travelogues, newspapers, and museum holdings.” 

Morgan has visited several archives to analyze connections between geology and literature, spending a month at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Mass., as the Alstott Morgan Fellow.  His passion for geology and literature started early when he double majored in English and geological sciences as an undergraduate, continuing that interdisciplinary line of research as he earned his doctorate at Duke University. 

“People may be familiar with the Copernican Revolution, the Darwinian Revolution, or the Freudian Revolution, but there is one revolution that often gets overlooked: the realization of deep time, that the world is much older than humanity realized,” said Morgan.  “During the nineteenth century, thinkers grappled with the realization of deep time.  It was during the 1800s that Americans learned how to read the Earth—its layers, in particular—and for many American writers, once your entire frame of temporal reference changes, it changes the way you view and act in the world.  My book manuscript excavates the cultural impact of the concept of the layered earth—or strata—in American fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, and is tentatively titled, Looking Downward: Geological Reformations in 19th-Century American Letters.” 

The ATLAS grant will give Morgan time to finish writing the final chapter, which thinks about the way geology circulated in nineteenth-century anti-slavery newspapers and African American literature.  “With the ATLAS, I'll be able to make the final revisions to each chapter so the manuscript will one day live in the world,” said Morgan.  “And for that, I am extremely grateful.” 

"First, let me say how proud I am of Patrick,” said former ULM English Program Coordinator Mary Adams.  “An ATLAS grant is a huge accomplishment, one that he truly deserves.  This is a tremendous endorsement of Patrick's work, and he should feel confident in acknowledging his place among our state’s very best scholars.  Again, I am just thrilled and proud!” 

Chapters from Morgan’s latest work on the relations between geology and literature are planned for publication this summer, including one in The Oxford Handbook of Ralph Waldo Emerson and another in The Pocket Instructor: Writing, published by Princeton University Press.    

For further information, please contact Patrick Morgan at pmorgan@ulm.edu.